Youngblood defeat Magic; Advance to Final Fours

Newham Youngbloods Lions U16 Premier Boys returned to action at Home in Basketball England U16 Playoff Quarter-Final following their win last weekend against fellow Newham Based side Baltic Stars 79-55. This week they faced a Trafford Magic team who finished fourth in the North Premier division who overcame their opposition by two points the week earlier to set up a clash with the Youngbloods Lions U16s side.

Youngbloods won the tip off and seized opportunity immediately to attack the basket however could not convert early on. Trafford went on the attack as both sides looked to score the first points of the game, as neither side could convert early on. Until Alex Distras was fouled in transition scoring the first point of the game from the free-throw line. This was quickly followed by a score from the inside by Captain Richmond Ariyo to give the home side an early 3-0 advantage before Trafford managed to find the basket immediately after as well as securing a stop on defence followed by another score to take advantage of the tie 3-4. Ariyo lead the change in pace for the home side scoring the next two points which gave Newham the lead again. Laja Ogidan added this total with an exquisite attacking move to the basket quickly followed up by Marka Sy to give Youngbloods a 16-4 lead with two minutes remaining in the first quarter forcing the Trafford Magic coach to take a timeout. Ogidan scored following the timeout with Magic scoring soon after bringing the quarter to a finish with Youngbloods Lions up 18-6.

Ogidan stepped it up at the beginning of the second quarter scoring a strong attacking move to the basket as he was fouled converting his free throws from the charity stripe quickly followed by a further two points. Arnas Petrauskas scored his first points of the game after he was fouled from the free throw line to give Youngbloods advantage by 16 points with 8 minutes remaining the second period. The two sides began trading baskets for the next 5 minutes of play in a high scoring affair between the two sides as a three ball from Distras halted the exchanges enabling Youngbloods to go on a scoring run of 13 points unanswered as well as a monstrous dunk and-1 from Petrauskas to extend the home team’s advantage to 26 points ending the half 56-30.

Orestas Vasiliauskas started the third quarter off with a bang nailing from deep quickly followed by a dunk from Ariyo and a three ball from Distras to give more than double point whilst holding then vistors to just 1 point in the opening 4 minutes of play leading 65-31 forcing the Trafford Magic Coach to take a timeout. Marka Sy and Dalton Bally were brought into play and instantly worked well together to score with ease as Youngblood began to total control of the game as Teon Boente-Edwards scored from close range as a result of great defence from Titus Warari gave Youngbloods a 78-45 advantage at the end of the third quarter.

Captain Ariyo urged his team to have a strong start and the team took on board his words as Vasiliauskas started the fourth as he did the third knocking down a shot from beyond the arc aswell as great link up play between Petrauskas and Ogidan saw another scoring run of 13-0 after back to back dunks one from both Petrauskas and Ogidan forced Trafford into a timeout. Following the timeout, Coach Aaron Senior introduced the current Under 15 and Under 14 players within the team to demonstrate their talents to the game and they didn’t disappoint as Christian Adun belied his age showed great defensive IQ as he picked off passes resulting in fast break points scored by Franklin Agu and Distras as they closed out the final quarter with an impressive 24-3 final quarter score with Youngbloods Lions proceeding to the National Final Fours at the Under 16 Boys age group for an impressive fourth year in a row. Final Score: 102-48

Coach Aaron Senior said “It was a brilliant performance from us today, everybody worked well together and we took our chances, what a fantastic time to hit your peak performance. They have worked hard all year and deserve this Journey. To close out the game with our young guys epitomises what we are all about and I am immensely proud of the way they handled it.”

“The boys have been fantastic all season throughout their ups and downs and continued to fight, it is a great achievement. We are thankful for the venues which play host to us at St Angela’s and St Bonaventure’s Schools without them this would not be possible.” said Caroline Charles, Head Coach at Newham Youngbloods Lions.

Youngbloods Lions will now travel to Belle Vue – National Performance Basketball Centre and will play Worthing Thunder in the Semi-Finals on 29th April 2017.